In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have sat down with several musicians to talk about how they have been coping and handling this pandemic. As it may be known, the live music community has suffered extreme loss throughout these difficult times, being deprived of the one thing that drives their passion. But, as time goes by, we have seen an increase in vaccinations and a decrease in daily COVID cases. The light at the end of the tunnel is looking close for some, and even though it may still seem far for some, the light is still there.
In this interview, we had the pleasure to sit down with Mr. Jim Odom, one of the guitarists from Louisiana's LeRoux, to discuss the band's latest album One of Those Days, future shows and bookings, and overall how the pandemic has affected the band this past year.
Where Y'At: We know you're one of nine members of Louisiana's LeRoux band, and that you joined them now about 40 years ago. Tell us what it's been like to go from your regular day-to-day musician lifestyle as a member of nine, to go into quarantine in the blink of an eye?
- Jim Odom: Well, actually, we had so much fun going on, we were playing a lot of different shows. We had an album that we were about to release, which we were finishing up. We actually started pre selling them in February and we played a show in Mississippi, on the Gulf Coast. It was a great show, but that was the last one and we haven't played since; it's been about a year and three months now, so yes it was brutal, really, because we had a lot of momentum and then we just had to stop.
WYA: How has the pandemic shifted the dynamics of the band; how you compose, practice, meet, etc.? Do you see any progress towards successfully meeting again?
- J.O.: We had one rehearsal, kind of a jam about a month ago, for the first time in a year. We are trying to get together again. We have our share of shows starting again around mid-July and through the fall. The festivals that were normally in the spring are all being moved to the fall, so we're starting to book festivals and things like that.
WYA: Tell us about LeRoux's newest album One of Those Days that came out in June 2020. How has the pandemic affected the release and promotion of the album?
- J.O.: It was a really tough call right. "Should we wait until we can play or not?" And we decided to put it out because of our fans. LeRoux has been around since 1979, so we have a fan base that goes way back, and so we thought we would put the album out for them and we did. We released it in June and it became available for sale in July around the 24th, and it did really well. We got #1 on iTunes' Blues Charts and #2 on Billboard Blues, so we were super happy with that part, but we couldn't go out and play, so we couldn't support it; that was the bummer.
WYA: Tell us about the upcoming performance LeRoux will be doing on September 11, 2021, at the Grand Opera House. How is that looking like and how are you all preparing for it?
- J.O.: The show's going to be a blast. We know that because we're probably long overdue to jam with each other, so we'll probably jam a lot. It'll be a lot of free flow music and, who knows, maybe we'll get carried away and play an extra hour. But about a month before that show, we'll have some rehearsal. We had a nice set list that we were really digging that we had to just abandon, but we'll probably go back to that where we're in the middle of the set and we take all the acoustic instruments and play acoustic guitars and other instruments; we have a lot of vocalists, so there'll be a lot of harmony and fun stuff like that.
WYA: How have your band members been coping/handling the pandemic? How have you been coping/handling the pandemic?
- J.O.: I think only two members caught COVID and they did okay; they made it through. But as far as working as a musician, it's been kind of brutal—trying to do other things to pay rent. When you're a musician and that's what you do, it's hard when everything stops. Some of the guys have been playing other shows with small groups for the last three or four months, making money around Louisiana, and doing other jobs until we can get back to work.
WYA: Tell us what the band, and you, miss most during all of this.
- J.O.: It's 100 percent the feeling of playing live music with people. We talk on Zoom, we record or I send music recorded, and it's just not the same. Being with your friends, being with all your bros on the stage, and just letting it go and having fun—laughing and being stupid. I miss that.
WYA: Do you guys think there's a light at the end of the tunnel?
- J.O.: I think there absolutely is a light at the end of the tunnel. I think the music industry is going to come back very, very strong. Ticket sales are going off like crazy for big festivals already, so people are ready to go back out and they want to hear live bands.
The band of nine can't wait any longer to reunite and jam like old times pre-COVID and, like them, there are countless others. The music industry needs its comeback and its supporters, and the light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter as the months pass. With the right safety guidelines and protocols established, we are on the right track down that tunnel.
A special thanks to Louisiana's LeRoux member Mr. Jim Odom for taking the time to converse with us about the difficulties faced by the band during the pandemic and, more than anything, the progress that is being made and will be made. For more information on Louisiana's LeRoux, please visit leroux.band.